When I was just old enough to understand, Great Uncle Owen told us he had been driving his T model Ford along Church Street Parramatta, when a red faced copper jumped onto the running board and demanded he ‘follow that car’!
I mean, didn’t every boy dream of the day? And Great Uncle Owen, at least sixty, still a boy at heart, excitedly told us how he depressed the second pedal. The second pedal was the one that got Henry into the higher of her two gears. Then, despite his terror, he put the pedal to the metal and raced in pursuit of the offender at over twenty miles an hour!
So, with that bit of family lore stowed away, imagine my surprise when I saw it re-enacted in 1970 in Cooma. We were there with Tokyo by Night, a sophisticated show with an all Japanese cast. ‘Sophisticated’ back in the early seventies meant nudity and we did have topless dancers. To round out the show in the age of Shintaro the Samurai, two young men performed acrobatic sword fights worthy of Iga Ninja Tombei the Mist and the evil Kooga Ninja!
Into this mix came our piano player, a single and normal red blooded young man, tormented nightly by beguiling smiles and the tantalising proximity of a cornucopia of secondary sexual characteristics! Well, he began paying attention to one of the girls, sitting beside her on the bus, helping with her English-Japanese phrase book and basically flirting, as you do.
What our young piano player did not know was that one of the young acrobatic swordsmen was enamoured of the same topless dancer. So when the warrior entered her room early one afternoon, he found the master of the keyboard there, in the process of liberating her chesty lumps to get a closer look, or maybe perform a digital examination. The Japanese lad took one look and let out a cry that could have been surprise, anger, or embarrassment and took off.
Digital Dave continued his attempt to undress the patient while she gesticulated in the direction of her departed colleague and tried to pull out of the clinch. Eventually, she regained control of her shirt and pushed him away, convincing him it was not a good time and he should leave. He was almost to the door when Shintaro burst through, sword raised, yelling an ancient Japanese battle cry which, roughly translated, meant ‘fuck off you mongrel bastard’ and brought the sword down where Busy Fingers had been a moment earlier
By the time Shintaro had jerked his sword free of the door jamb, Liberace was diving head first through the window, taking the fly screen with him into the garden shrubs. He rolled to his feet and was up and running just as his assailant came through the door and the race was on.
Meanwhile, Barry Stewart, legendary Sydney drummer and I were enjoying a quiet lunch together at nice Cooma restaurant, happily relaxing over a bottle of Chablis when we saw a blur of presto piano flashing by the picture window, then a long curved blade, a screaming Japanese warrior and last of all our leader, Gerry Goodwin, trumpet player, and President of the Musicians Union Sydney Branch, in hot pursuit!
Samurai was gaining and Gerry was fading as a Police F100 Black Maria came abreast. By the time Barry and I had reached the street, glasses of white in hand, Gerry had veered into the traffic, leapt onto the running board of the police vehicle and frighted the shit out of two young constables, as he yelled through the open window ‘follow that samurai!’
Cameras should have been running as the Keystone Cop sequence continued. The startled driver jammed on his brakes, throwing Gerry to the ground where he lay until the two Plods rushed up to see if the mad man was OK. Meanwhile, Lothario and Tojo had disappeared up the hill and around a corner.
Epilogue: Barry and I returned to our meal and our wine, realising there was nothing we could do and left it to fate. Fate was kind. Hirohito must have calmed down because the whole cast turned up that night with no sign of injury and all seemed to have returned to normal. Well, not quite.
From then on, the seat beside Tokyo Rose remained vacant all the way to Canberra and beyond.
Pic courtesy http://www.google.com.au/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=2&oq=Keystone+cops&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4TSAU_enAU376AU378&q=keystone+cops+pictures
Well worth a visit.